Irish Republican News · October 24, 2005
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
UUP claims victory

Ulster Unionist leader Reg Empey declared military victory over the Provisional IRA at his party’s annual conference at the weekend -- while sounding a warning over Sinn Fein’s political progress.

An unusually subdued UUP conference heard Empey declare that the IRA “has suffered a military defeat” and his appeal to unionist paramilitaries to also place their weapons beyond use.

In his leader’s address, Mr Empey said no victorious army handed over its weapons to “a commission established by its enemies”.

“For republicans who murdered, maimed, bombed and robbed for 35 years their needless and futile ‘war’ is at an end,” he declared. “They [the IRA] have had to accept partition”.

However, the rhetoric failed to enthuse party delegates, increasingly marginalised by the prospect of a first historic engagement between Sinn Fein and Ian Paisley’s DUP.

Empey said that at the other end of the spectrum there were the disgruntled, embittered feuding unionist paramilitaries. In a direct appeal, ‘Sir Reg’ said “call it a day and begin the job of decommissioning the firepower that has brought so much misery”.

“Engage with the decommissioning commission - place your arms beyond use and commit yourselves to exclusively peaceful and democratic means,” he added.

In a reference to the DUP, he added: “The days when you listened and responded to blood-curdling speeches of some unionist leaders in the Ulster Hall are long since past, as are the days of Ulster Resistance and middle of the night mountainside adventures.”

Meanwhile, Empey predicted it is possible that after the next election a Dublin government could be in office propped up with Sinn Fein support and this would drastically increase the risk to unionists.

He said republicans are increasingly focused on a role in Dublin.

In his first address to an Ulster Unionist conference since becoming leader, Empey warned that such a scenario was no longer a pipe dream and “it is on the cards.”

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© 2005 Irish Republican News